Paris Hilton, Jenna Jameson image spam scams spread malware

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The same group of hackers who last week promised nude photographs of Britney Spears is now believed to be mass spamming messages that contain a clickable image of porn star Jenna Jameson — all leading to websites hosting a variety of recently patched exploits.

This new wave of junk mail comes with subjects claiming, "Hot pictures of paris hilton nude" but instead contains a large image of Jameson, researchers said today.

"What’s interesting about this is that these guys are sending out these bold, graphic pictures that have striking images," Alex Eckelberry, president of anti-spam provider Sunbelt Software, told SCMagazine.com today. "It’s all trying to invite a click."

The tactic differs from previous spamming campaigns this year, which relied on worms to send malicious payloads as part of executable attachments.

"It’s pretty sophisticated stuff," Eckelberry said of the new spam scam. "It’s heavily obfuscated JavaScript code that takes you to a number of different sites."

Eckelberry said the new trend is a different take on image spam. It started two weeks ago when spammers delivered a real-looking graphic from Microsoft that asked users to download Internet Explorer 7 beta 2. Instead, they were infected by a worm.

Then last Wednesday, the day after Microsoft released an out-of-cycle fix for a highly critical animated cursor handing vulnerability, images containing links to malicious sites were embedded in racy photos of Britney Spears.

While most enterprises have strong anti-spam filters in place, this new surge of junk mail may find an easier path through web-based mailboxes, such as Hotmail or Yahoo, Eckelberry said. Employees who fall victim can still infect the network.

Click here to email reporter Dan Kaplan.

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